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Sophomore golfer is Lady Flyers' sharpshooter

By jhornberg
Feb. 10, 2012 at 11:04 p.m.
Updated Feb. 10, 2012 at 8:11 p.m.


LAUREN JOHNSON MEMORIAL CLASSIC LEADERS

Sierra Sims, Austin Westlake A, 74Maddie Buhler, St. Joseph, 80Francesca Bosco, Houston St. Agnes, 81, Angela No, A&M Consolidated, 82Chloe Velasco, St. Joseph 83Piper Rickard, Austin Westlake A, 83Keeley Coburn, Tuloso-Midway, 83Allison Flores, Tuloso-Midway, 84

Chloe Velasco did something in 2011 most golfers will never do.

And she did it twice.

"I don't know what to tell you about that girl, she is really something else," said St. Joseph coach Jack Lee with a chuckle. "It took me 50 years before I even had one!"

The sophomore for St. Joseph dropped two holes-in-one during the fall portion of the golf season, one on a par 3 hole at Wildflower Golf Course in Temple from about 160 yards out, the other at Plum Creek in Kyle at about 100 yards.

She is the No. 2 golfer for the Lady Flyers, giving the team a strong one-two punch with her and senior Maddie Buhler.

Lee believes her talents can carry her a long way.

"She has really good strength and good tempo," he said, "and she has a really good attitude, and that's going to take her far."

On Friday, Velasco and Buhler posted scores of 83 and 80, respectively, good enough to place Buhler in second place behind Austin Westlake's Sierra Sims, and Velasco in a fifth-place tie with Westlake's Piper Rickard and Tuloso-Midway's Keeley Coburn.

St. Joseph sits in second place, just nine strokes behind Austin Westlake's A-team, which posted a team score of 340. The individual leader, Sims, shot a 2-over 74 on Friday.

Velasco expressed dismay with her score Friday. An 83 is a strong score for the type of weather many golfers put up with early on, and she posted a 39 on the back nine to salvage her score.

But she expressed disappointment with the way she shot, saying at one point, she wanted to give it up for the day.

"I had a slow start, which is nothing new," Velasco said. "I wasn't too proud of how I did on the front nine. My coach and my father helped me out, and I parred the next hole after that bad one."

The highlight of the year so far, though, were the holes-in-one. She attributes the shot at Kyle to more than just her skill.

"It was all luck," she said with a laugh. "I was the last one to hit (at Kyle), and I didn't think the hole looked to hard. I hit it, it went high and toward the green.

"One of the coaches was sitting near the hole, and he started shouting, 'Hole-in-one!' And I just started screaming."

But it was the first one that sends the strongest message. That one - about 160 yards into the wind - came at the site of the TAPPS state tournament this year.

The Lady Flyers have a goal of making it back to Temple, especially with three seniors in the top five.

The target? Last year's champion, Dallas Ursuline.

"We want to give them a run for it," she said.

As if two wasn't enough, Velasco almost added a third on Friday, missing out by centimeters from one on the 12th hole at Victoria Country Club.

"It was crazy," she said. "I went and looked, and saw my little divot that far away from the hole," she said as she held her fingers about an inch apart to illustrate the distance. "I wish it had fallen because I really needed that.

"I was still proud of myself because I still birdied the hole."



SLOW STARTS IN THE RAIN

It was an almost universal expression from the golfers in the tournament. The front nine did not go well for any of those involved, and how could it with the weather like it was.

The teams took to the course in the rain to start the day, and played much of the first nine holes in temperatures hovering around 50 degrees and in a steady rain.

East senior Briana Reyes shot a 90 on the day to lead the Titans, but said she struggled dealing with greens sopping wet from the rains all morning and much of the day before.

"I'd leave everything on the high side, then putt it past the hole, and then again," she said, making a triangle motion around what would have been the hole with her fingers.

Did it get any better? For some, it did, but for others, it did not.

"It was rough out there," said East golfer Jackie Gonzales. "I was short of everything. My chipping saved me, though."



WEATHER INTERVENES AGAIN

This is the third consecutive year the weather intervened in some way at the Lauren Johnson Memorial Classic.

In 2011, it was cold weather. This year, it was rain. In 2010, it was both.

That year, the golfers played both days in driving winds and often wet conditions with temperatures around 40 degrees.

In 2011, the tournament was delayed a few weeks because of the potential for snow the morning of the start of the tournament.

This year, despite rain through the start, the weather cleared up and warmed up by the end. It allowed several to find a rhythm at the end.

Saturday is expected to be clear.



EAST IN 5TH; WEST IN 11TH; ST. JOSEPH IN SECOND

West coach Scott Ledbetter was just hoping his team would be able to shoot their averages on Friday, and that the team would break 400.

The Warriors turned in a 414 team score, with Meagan Neuman leading the team with a round of 86. Also competing for West was Tara Goetz, who posted a 106, Kayla Bowland (108), Morgan Park (114) and Addie Griffith (130).

The Titans are tied for fifth place with Round Rock McNeil with a team score of 374. Reyes posted the team's low score with a 90, and Lindsey Crabb posted a 91.

East had four golfers shoot under 100. Also competing for the Titans was Jackie Gonzales (94), Tessa Lev (99) and Cassidy Hoad (105).

St. Joseph, though, is in shouting distance of the leader. Led by Maddie Buhler's 80 and Chloe Velasco's 83, the team also got strong days from Bethany Hickner (93), Kim Chavarria (93) and Kaitlyn Cantu (99).



OVERHEARD IN THE CLUBHOUSE•  A coach for a team that didn't have a particularly good day to parents and players: "Our scores were so high, our pencils ran out."

• West golfer Meagan Neuman, about a round in which she rebounded from a bad start: "I'm happy for the comeback, not the round."



COLLEGE NOTES•  Jack Lee said a college scout from Redlands in Oklahoma was at the tournament scouting Maddie Buhler on Friday, as well as other golfers.

• After receiving letters of interest from about 35 schools and visiting such powerhouses as Michigan and Wake Forest, local golfer Ali Cowan has committed to play golf at Kentucky after next year. The junior, who is currently taking classes through a virtual online school, made her decision three weeks ago, her mother, Renea Cowan, said.

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